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The boy scout slogan compels attorney Daniel M. Perez to “Do a Good Turn Daily.” Rescue a treed kitten, bandage a little shaver’s bruised knee, run errands for the neighborhood shut-in — that sort of thing. Last week, in all due scout fashion, Perez came to the aid of a little old lady. Perez slapped down a $1 million notice of claim against New York City on behalf of 82-year-old Mary Novak, whom he calls “the world’s oldest police strip-search victim.” Perez, or “Young Dan,” as he’s known on the job, is the seemingly unlikely associate of Ronald L. Kuby, whose bona fides as one of the last living Marxists are familiar to the New York bar and talk radio fans. “Ron’s a Communist, but that’s just not me,” said Perez, 31, who grew up in suburban Mahwah, N.J. — in a house on Crocker Mansion Road, no less — and attended an all-boy Catholic prep school. “I’m not a Republican or a Democrat. I’m conservative in certain respects. A lot of things that concern me are termed liberal by the press. “But Ron and I do share the idea of standing up for civil rights for everybody,” said Perez, whose Eagle Scout plaque occupies a prominent place on his office wall. “No matter what they’re charged with, no matter what people say about them.” Acting Bronx Supreme Court Justice Efrain Alvarado was quick to see the scouting influence on Young Dan, who handled calendar calls for Kuby in two high-profile criminal cases before his court. “Dan Perez is an excellent attorney,” said Justice Alvarado, who happens to lead a scout troop in the Inwood district of Upper Manhattan. “He’s very thorough, he puts together excellent papers, he’s very prepared.” And why not? The boy scout motto, after all, is “Be Prepared.” “I’m not saying that somebody can’t be successful without scouting,” said Justice Alvarado. “But the boy who goes into scouting and achieves the honor of Eagle rank — well, he’s something quite special. “About 3 percent of scouts attain the rank of Eagle,” he added. “You really have to reach out to individuals, organize yourself and serve your community.” Famous Eagle Scouts include the late Harrison Salisbury, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist; James A. Lovell Jr., the Apollo astronaut; former President Gerald R. Ford; former U.S. Senator Bill Bradley of New Jersey; and Stephen Spielberg, the film director and producer. When he was an even more youthful Young Dan, Perez began his legal career as an unpaid clerk for Kuby’s late partner, the near-legendary William Kunstler. Eventually, he became a litigator for the firm, causing a trace of trouble for his parents. “Given their ‘druthers,’ ” Perez said of his mother and father, “ they would have preferred my going to work for the U.S. Attorney.” Indeed, said Doris Perez of her son’s decision, there was a delicate family moment. “When Danny told us who he was working with, there was a kind of gulp,” she said. “My husband is probably the most conservative IBM-er you’ve ever seen, with the wing tips and the blue suit. But finally he told Danny, ‘If you want it, go for it.’ “ Perez’s father, for 37 years a sales executive for IBM, braced himself by reading Kunstler’s autobiography, “My Life as a Radical Lawyer.” “I didn’t agree with him [Kunstler],” said Daniel J. Perez, Young Dan’s father. “But there are things he said and did that I had great respect for. “Anyway, Dan learned from a couple of pretty good lawyers,” said the elder Perez. “It was a great thrill for me to be sitting in a courtroom [in New Jersey] watching my son do his first appeal — the kid whose nose I used to wipe, the kid I’d go to scout camp with.” More important than politics and strange bedfellows, both parents agreed, was that their son had found what his mother called “a perfect, perfect place” in the law. “He has an extremely sensitive nature, and knows when someone needs help,” Mrs. Perez said of her son. “Most lawyers go into big corporations where there’s lots of glitziness, but that didn’t interest Danny.” A disdain of pursuing a big salary nearly caused Young Dan to quit after his first year at New York University School of Law, where he graduated in 1995. A professor at the time, Steven Zeidman, recalled a turning point in Perez’s view of the law. “He interviewed for a position as my research assistant,” said Zeidman, a former Legal Aid lawyer and now executive director of the Fund for Modern Courts. “It was clear he was very ambitious and industrious, and full of moxie. But he had concerns. So many of his classmates were geared up toward corporate law. He was one of the very few who felt differently, and he wondered if he should quit. “We spent a lot of time talking about what a law degree allows you to do — the good it allows you to do,” said Zeidman. “Once he realized there were things he could feel good about, that he wasn’t limited to following his classmates down the path of corporate law, he just threw himself into it. I think he was destined to be doing exactly what he’s now doing.” According to Perez, that would be doing his bit for the “police brutality bar” in filing civil suits that routinely win brisk settlements from public agencies in New York and New Jersey. Such as the $200,000 settlement he recently won as the result of a federal suit against the New York Police Department in the case of a woman hobbled by a broken hip and poor English. In his suit, Perez claimed that officers fractured the plaintiff’s foot when they roughed her up in the stairway of her own apartment house after she failed to step aside quickly enough. And it was the plaintiff who called them to the house in the first place on a disturbance complaint. “We always ran the office like a Ponzi scheme,” Kuby said of the old days of the Kunstler & Kuby. “There would be one big-paying case, and that would underwrite the others, and we’d just wait for another money case. Now we’ve got Young Dan.” CLIENT STRIP SEARCHED Perez’s most recent client, Mary Novak, who stands just over 5 feet tall and weighs 90 pounds, claims that police officers busted her for playing music too loudly in her home. She was subsequently strip-searched at Brooklyn Central Booking, according to her sworn statement. Among other things, Perez claims false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, assault and battery, infliction of emotional distress and federal civil rights violations under 18 U.S.C. Section 1983. Should it go to trial, Perez’s wife, Miky Meineke-Perez, will be enlisted, as usual, for the rehearsal. “When he prepares for trial, I have to be the jury,” said Meineke-Perez, who is expecting the couple’s first child. “I mean we literally put up chairs, and I play the bored juror, or the angry juror — Sometimes I play the judge — in my graduation gown.” At home, said Meineke-Perez, her husband relaxes by telling stories. “I think he’ll write a book some day,” she said. “A really good political thriller.” Until then, there are certain thrills to be had in civil rights law, for which he was given fair warning on Day One at the firm of Kunstler & Kuby. “They told me right up front,” Perez recalled, “If you work here, you’re going to get arrested.” And so he was — twice. On the first occasion, he had written an amicus brief for Kunstler on behalf of the Irish Lesbian & Gay Organization, when the group unsuccessfully sought permission to march as a unit in the St. Patrick’s Day parade. “I wound up sitting down with them on Fifth Avenue,” said Perez. “The police officer was very nice. We talked about skiing.” The second arrest came during the mass protest outside One Police Plaza in the aftermath of the Amadou Diallo slaying. “Sometimes you need to take a stand on issues that need more than empty rhetoric,” said Perez. “Sometimes you have to hit the streets. To me, that’s very American — and very conservative.” By the time he finished law school, the late Kunstler had grown very fond of his earnest law clerk. So much so that he wrote one of his famous sonnets, which he presented to Perez on graduation day. In his final lines, Kunstler counseled: Have some fun along the way And never lose your grin; You’ve got the tools to win the fray And do the bastards in.

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